Q: How many marijuana bills will state lawmakers consider at the special session?

A: Two. One is a regulatory bill, L.D. 1650, that was created by the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation, and the other is a governor’s bill that would extend a moratorium on commercial parts of the voter-approved legalization law through January 2019.

Q: Wait, didn’t Maine already legalize recreational marijuana?

A: Yes, voters legalized adult-use cannabis last fall. The Marijuana Legalization Act became law in January, but lawmakers delayed implementation of everything but home grow and possession until February 2018 to give lawmakers time to set up the rules for the new market.

Q: How will we know which bill wins?

A: A special session bill requires a two-thirds majority to become emergency legislation, or to go into effect right away. In the Maine House of Representatives, where the regulatory bill faces its toughest battle, that means 100 votes. Two-thirds of lawmakers present would have to support it to withstand a gubernatorial veto, which is likely. That number depends on who shows up Monday. The moratorium bill only needs to get a simple majority, because it doesn’t need to be veto-proof (after all, it’s the governor’s own bill, and he’ll probably approve it) and it doesn’t have to become law right away, just before the existing moratorium lapses in February.

Q: How is the regulatory bill different from the voter-approved legalization law?

A: There are many differences – the regulatory bill is more than 75 pages long, while the voter-approved law is just 10 – but the big differences are taxes, cultivation caps and licensing rules. The regulatory bill sets a 20 percent retail and excise tax, eliminates the grow cap and sets a two-year residency requirement for licenses. The voter law has a 10 percent sales tax, an 800,000-square-foot grow limit (about 18 acres) and gives license preferences to marijuana caregivers.

– Penelope Overton

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